United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
ORDER ADOPTING RECOMMENDATION (DKT. NO. 17), GRANTING
MOTION TO DISMISS (DKT. NO. 14) AND DISMISSING CASE
PEPPER United States District Judge
April 14, 2017, the plaintiff filed a motion, asking the
court to issue a preliminary restraining order barring the
Milwaukee County Circuit Court from ruling in Federal
Nat'l Mortgage v. Estate of Mackray Holifield, et
al., Milwaukee County Circuit Court Case No.
2014cv006378, and staying foreclosure, sheriff's sale and
eviction proceedings. Dkt. No. 1. Magistrate Judge Nancy
Joseph denied as moot the plaintiff's motion for leave to
proceed without prepaying the filing fee. Dkt. No. 4. In the
process, she reviewed the plaintiff's claims, and
concluded that he had not stated any claims for which a
federal court could grant relief; as far as she could tell,
the plaintiff was trying to appeal a judgment issued in state
court. Id. at 2. For this reason, the judge
dismissed the plaintiff's case without prejudice.
Id. at 3.
17, 2017, the court received from the plaintiff a motion for
reconsideration. Dkt. No. 6. In that motion, the plaintiff
described what he perceived to be flaws in the mortgage
contract for the property that had been foreclosed in the
state court case, and argued that those facts showed that he
had been denied federal due process. Id. at 1-2.
Judge Joseph denied that motion, again finding that the
plaintiff had not stated any claims that would entitle him to
federal relief. Dkt. No. 7. She noted, however, that he could
file an amended complaint if he thought he could state such
claims. Id. On May 30, 2017, the plaintiff filed an
amended complaint. Dkt. No. 8. Judge Joseph vacated the prior
order of dismissal, and allowed the plaintiff to proceed on
the amended complaint. Dkt. No. 9.
forty-five days later, on July 17, 2017, defendant Bank of
America filed a motion to dismiss. Dkt. No. 14. Under this
court's rules, the plaintiff had twenty-one days-in other
words, until August 7, 2017-to oppose the motion to dismiss.
Despite that fact, the plaintiff has not filed anything else
since Bank of America filed its motion.
October 10, 2017, Judge Joseph issued a report and
recommendation to this court. Dkt. No. 17. She recommended
that this court grant the defendant's motion to dismiss
based on the plaintiff's failure to state a claim.
Id. at 3. She concluded that the plaintiff's
amended complaint had the same problem as his original
complaint. She indicated that the amended complaint
“vaguely allege[d]” that Bank of America, acting
in concert with a notary public named Alan Wyskochil,
falsified mortgage documents. Id. at 2.
judge explained that federal and state courts were different,
and that a person who had lost a case in state court could
not appeal that loss in federal court. Id. at 2-3.
Because Judge Joseph perceived that the plaintiff was trying
to appeal the loss of his state foreclosure case in federal
court, she recommended that this court dismiss the case.
Id. at 3.
end of her decision, Judge Joseph informed the plaintiff that
if he wanted to object to her recommendation, he had to file
that objection in writing within fourteen days of the date of
her order. Id. at 3. Because she issued her order on
October 10, 2017, the plaintiff's objections (if he had
any) were due by October 25, 2017. The court has not received
any objection from the plaintiff.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), if a party does not object to a
magistrate judge's report and recommendation, the
district court reviews the magistrate judge's
recommendation for clear error. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); Johnson
v. Zema Systems Corp., 170 F.3d 734, 739 (7th Cir. 1999)
(citations omitted). This court must decide only whether
Judge Joseph's report and recommendation were clearly
erroneous. The court concludes that they were not.
amended complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the notary
public, “acting under the color of law, ” and
Bank of America engaged in a conspiracy to deprive him and
his deceased grandfather of their property in violation of
the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Dkt. No. 8. He
asserted that the notary public and the bank falsely verified
a loan document, to cover up the fact that the originator of
the loan had manipulated the plaintiff's “elderly
illiterate grandfather by subjecting him to predatory lending
absent federally mandated counseling.” Id. The
plaintiff asked the court to issue a restraining order
barring “the lower court” from
“implementing any further actions in case #14CV6378,
” “staying foreclosure, Sheriff's Sale, and
all eviction processes pending an Order of adjudication from
this Court.” Id. He also argued that he had
been damaged by the defendants' actions, and he asked for
$286, 000 in monetary damages, injunctive relief
“vacating the lower court's foreclosure, ”
and an award of clear title to the property foreclosed upon
in state court. Id.
review of the on-line docket shows that on October 24, 2016,
Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge David Hansher entered a
default judgment of foreclosure. Federal Nat'l
Mortgage v. Estate of Mackray Holifield, et al.,
Milwaukee County Circuit Court Case No. 2014CV006378 at dkt.
no. 49, found at https://wcca.wicourts.gov. The judgment
issued on October 27, 2016. Id. at dkt. no. 44. The
notice of sheriff's sale was dated January 30, 2017.
Id. at dkt. no. 35. On March 24, 2017, the plaintiff
(representing himself) filed a motion to vacate the
foreclosure and sheriff's sale. Id. at dkt. no.
34. The sheriff filed the report of sale on April 12, 2017.
Id. at dkt. no. 28. The court granted confirmation
of the sale on April 24, 2017. Id. at dkt. nos. 19,
17. The court also struck the plaintiff's motion to
vacate. Id. at dkt. no. 18.
unsuccessfully tried to convince the state court to vacate
its own foreclosure judgment and the confirmation of the
sheriff's sale, the plaintiff has come to the federal
court, and asks the federal court to vacate the state
court's orders. The law does not allow this court to do
what the plaintiff asks. As Judge Joseph mentioned in her
order, the state court system and the federal court system
are separate, independent court systems. The state court is
not a “lower court” of this court-it is a
completely separate court in and of itself. This court does
not have authority to act as an appellate court for the state
court, or to overturn decisions by a state court.
Supreme Court made this clear in a pair of cases called
Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923)
and District of Columbia Court of Appeals v.
Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983). Together, those two
decisions created the “Rooker-Feldman
doctrine, ” which “divests all federal courts
except the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to adjudicate suits
by plaintiffs who effectively seek review and rejection of an
adverse state-court judgment.” Podemski v. U.S.
Bank Nat'l Assn., 2017 WL 4792195 (7th Cir. Oct. 24,
true regardless of whether the state court was right or
wrong. “The reason a litigant gives for contesting the
state court's decision cannot endow a federal district
court with authority; that's what it means to say that
the Rooker-Feldman doctrine is
jurisdictional.” Iqbal v. Patel, 780 F.3d 728,
729 (7th Cir. 2015)). Even if the state court was completely
wrong in making the decision that it made, the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine prohibits this federal court
from overturning that decision.
to realize from Judge Joseph's first decision that this
might be the case, the plaintiff tried to state his claim
differently in the amended complaint. In the amended
complaint, he added the allegation that the defendants had
acted under color of state law to deprive him of his rights
under the Fifth Amendment. This appears to be an attempt by the
plaintiff to cast his case as a civil rights case under 42
U.S.C. §1983. Setting aside the facts that neither the
Bank of America nor the notary defendant are state actors,
and that the plaintiff has asserted no facts to indicate that
the government took the plaintiff's property for public
use, the Seventh Circuit has held ...